China’s Communist Party announced on Thursday that married couples across the country will now be allowed to have two children, effectively ending the “one child” policy that was imposed in the late 1970s by Deng Xiaoping.
The policy was originally implemented to ensure that population growth would not hinder economic growth, but Chinese leaders are now worried that an aging population could do just that.
Over the past several decades, efforts to control the population by limiting family size has created resentment towards the government; the policy has long been a display of party dominance and used forced abortions and severe fines as enforcement mechanisms.
The “one child” policy and its enforcement mechanisms have statistically affected families residing in the countryside the most. This is illustrated in the skewed ratio of males to females in rural families, where sons are preferred to daughters because of their potential for manual labor, often resulting in infanticide or abandonment of the female children.
In a statement following Communist Party meeting where President Xi Jinping made the announcement, the National Health and Family Planning Commission — the “one child” policy’s enforcement apparatus — said that China’s new policy will “increase the labor supply and ease pressures from an aging population. This will benefit sustained and healthy economic development.”
After more than 13 years of detention, Shaker Aamer was released on Friday from Guantanamo Bay prison, the United States military-run prison in Cuba. Aamer’s detention has attracted the attention of several groups around the world, including human rights activists, politicians and celebrities.
Aamer, who is a Saudi citizen and British resident, was transferred to London. Shortly after landing, he made a brief statement where he thanked God, his family and everyone who had worked for him to be released.
“I am overwhelmed by what people have done by their actions, their thoughts and their prayers, and without their devotion to justice I would not be here in Britain now.”
Aamer was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 by an anti-Taliban Afghan group and was turned over to the United States, who accused Aamer of performing recruitment and financial services for al-Qaeda, and also working for the terrorist group’s leader, Osama bin Laden.
Aamer has been cleared for release since the United Kingdom’s request for transfer in 2007, but was held due to American uneasiness. After assuming office in 2009, President Barack Obama’s six-agency task force charged with reviewing remaining Guantanamo detainees cleared Aamer unanimously.
While imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay, Aamer was a vocal figure who lead hunger strikes, challenged military practices — including force-feeding — and filed a habeas corpus lawsuit against the United States.
President Juan Manuel Santos said on Wednesday that he wants to enter into a bilateral truth with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) on the first day of 2016.
Although the two parties have held peace talks for the past three years, the government has been unable to declare a ceasefire. The FARC, which observes a unilateral ceasefire, has continuously called on the government to join them in both ceasefire and truce.
At a public gathering, President Santos called upon both government negotiators and FARC leaders to make their best effort, “so that we can declare an internationally monitored bilateral ceasefire from 1 January.”
In the past, the Colombian government has justified its refusal to declare a ceasefire stating that the rebel group would just use the opportunity to re-arm and re-group.
Since the conflict began in 1964, an estimated 220,000 people have been killed, making it the longest continuous conflict in the Western Hemisphere.